Unpacking the heart with words

Horatio is alive and well but no longer living in Denmark. Hamlet's herald is out and about, and raising up new storytellers — at the moment at Murfreesboro Little Theatre.

If you have never seen Hamlet, this is a good introduction. It is relatively short, it moves right along, it is in a small space so you will read the actors' emotions. Ambition, murder, and revenge abound, grabbing attention now just as they did a thousand years ago.

If you have seen Hamlet several times, this will be a new experience. No one has seen Shakespeare's own Hamlet since he died. He left plenty of lines, collected in three versions and every director has picked and chosen and created his own tragedy.

Andrew Ford has decided that Rosencrantz can do without Guilderstern, that one gravedigger is enough, and that daggers need not actually appear in the final encounter. The tale unfolds in all its essentials without them. That Rosencrantz is a woman may disturb the purists.

Connor Hall easily switches from mood to mood as Hamlet wonders, decides, hesitates, and seems to get off course. Hall comes on after intermission looking like a college kid looking for a paintball game but play with rapiers was the sport back in the day. Mix in a little poison and obviously the end is going to be messy.

Angela Gimlin gives us a beauty queen Gertrude, looking a little too young to be Hamlet's mother but they married young in olden times. She is shaken by Hamlet's denouncing her hasty marriage to her dead husband's brother but alas wife and mother is the only role available to her.

Madison Boan is an Ophelia fair in fortune and distraught in madness brought on by Hamlet's declarations of not loving her. He later says all that was a deception but sharp words have a life of their own.

Phil Mote's too wordy and too nosey Polonius and Luke Patton's stately Ghost of Hamlet's Father set off what is happening around them. Robert Wilson is the ambitious King Claudius although he seems not to have thought through just what comes next as he seeks to maintain order.

Christopher Wagner is the dashing Laertes, home and off again to France and then back home to death and madness and a tainted plot with Claudius to get rid of Hamlet whose words are endless and becoming an embarrassment.

To be, or not to be, - that is the question, a question that has infinite answers. Hamlet believes in the power of words. He answers Polonius that he is reading "words, words, words," and he devises his inserted lines as a Mousetrap in the play presented before Claudius, saying, "the play 's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.

Horatio will be stirring up newer Hamlets but now is the time to see a thought-provoking one at Murfreesboro Little Theatre.




Hamlet, playing at the Murfreesboro Little Theatre, 702 Ewing Boulevard, Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Friday and Saturdays at 7 pm and Sundays at 2 pm through November 9. Reservations at http://www.mltarts.com/ or 615-893-9825.

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